May 25, 2007-Time-“How to Fix No Child Left Behind”
It's countdown time in Philadelphia's public schools. Just 21 days remain before the state reading and math tests in March, and the kids and faculty at James G. Blaine Elementary, an all-black, inner-city school that spans pre-K to eighth grade, have been drilling for much of the day. At 2:45 in the afternoon, Rasheed Abdullah, the kinetic lead math teacher, stages what could be called a prep rally with 11 third-graders. The kids, who are at neither the top nor the bottom of their class, have been selected for intensive review--as has a contingent from other grades--because their test scores hold the key to putting the school over the top on the pivotal Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSAS). Last year, after a history of failure, the school, under new leadership, managed to meet the federal goal for adequate yearly progress (AYP) on the state tests for the first time. If it does so again, Blaine moves off the dreaded list of failing schools, no longer a target for intensive oversight and sanctions that could include replacing the staff.